ENG202Y: BRITISH LITERATURE FROM MEDIEVAL TO ROMANTIC
TUES. OCT. 29/13
Next week we start Shakespeare’s The Tempest (including perhaps some film
clips). I sent an email via Blackboard noting a change to next week’s syllabus:
I’ve cut the Bacon essay. Just focus on the play, but feel free to write about Bacon
if you want.
The next set of discussion questions is due Sunday, so continue looking at these in
There is no class on Nov. 12 because of the fall break. Office hours will also be
cancelled but I will provide alternate times, since it is the week before essays are
due. Details will be posted on Blackboard, but it will be 5:30 to 7:00, same
location. I will also provide my office phone number in case you are locked out of
the Jackman Building. Please email me if you want to come. Regular office hours
will resume Nov. 19, and I will also provide extra office hours on Nov. 18, 5:30-7:00
in the same place.
Feel free to email me with essay questions, e.g. thesis statements; I will respond
as quickly as possible. You don’t have to use turnitin – submit your essays to me
in class. And make sure you have approval from me for your topic.
I recommend that you start the Paradise Lost reading in advance of Nov. 19, when
we will also discuss the test.
THE FAERIE QUEENE: CANTO 3
(We will pick up where we left off last week. Some of the layers of meaning should
be making sense as you move along, making it easier to interpret the various
episodes. We discussed the mix of genres in The Faerie Queene, e.g. epic,
romance, and the particular kind of stanza used in this poem – the Spenserian
Canto 3 focuses on Una and her separation from the Redcrosse Knight. She
encounters a lion, which obviously makes us think of courage. The lion protects
Una, and they encounter each other without Archimago’s being around. Una
tames the lion, then they meet Archimago, who is disguised as the Redcrosse
Sans Loy comes along to avenge his brother until he realizes it is actually
Archimago. He forces Una to come with him, killing the lion. It is significant that
the lion is unsuccessful in battle: a lion is uncivilized and wild, and Una’s ability to
tame him shows her power. And lions lack what always seems to make the
difference for the Redcrosse Knight: faith is an advantage in battle that the
lion lacks, e.g. in the fight with error Una tells him to have faith.
ENG202Y, OCT. 29 Page 1 of 7 In other words, there are parallels between the lion and the Knight, both of whom
are creatures of appetite, often to their detriment. In fact, there are men who are
even more beastly than real beasts.
Lions are also traditionally association with royalty. The birth or death of a
lion was often seen as prophetically related to kings and queens, e.g. the lion as
“king of the forest”, with a strong connection to how royal families portrayed their
lineage. We need to relate holiness with allegiance to royalty, e.g. the Faerie
Queene as the embodiment of Elizabeth I.
Una seeks shelter in a house which displays a layer of detrimental Catholic
qualities. The blindness motif continues, e.g. Corsica, and the text makes the
point that blindness begets various sins and isn't just physical but
spiritual. (This connection is made even more significant in Paradise Lost.)
Canto 4 switches back to the Redcrosse Knight, where we meet Lucifera, who
represents the sin of pride. Sans Joy arrives and wants to fight the Knight until
Duessa warns him of the Knight’s charmed armour.
The description of the House of Pride is very important. We mentioned that
houses in The Faerie Queene are very significant. Just as taking the beaten
path generally leads to sin, the landscape also sends allegorical signals continually
throughout the book.
The elaborate description (stanzas 2-6) of the House of Pride includes some
►built on a sandy hill
►built without mortar with high but weak walls
►its foundation is weak
►covered by a thin layer of gold foil
►lots of windows
►clock at top
►lots of people are there and everyone can enter
►entered via a beaten path
The superficial nature of this house is obvious. It is something that looks good
but lacks depth, and isn't a solid edifice. (Later we will learn that while entry is
easy, leaving is difficult, e.g. it has a dungeon.) It is connected to another figure of
duplicity, Duessa, who also shifts and lacks stability. As well, the porter’s name is
Malvenu (“bad welcome”; later we will see a contrasting porter in another house).
Pride, too, is usually seen as transient, which might be signalled by the clock.
In terms of the religious allegory, Protestants tended to object to the
ornamentation of the Catholic Church, which was interpreted as being nothing
ENG202Y, OCT. 29 Page 2 of 7 more than idolatry. Any similar excessive decoration was often condemned.
We saw that Spenser’s letter to Raleigh established his poem as a panegyric to
Elizabeth, “Gloriana”, but she is shadowed in various other characters.
And it isn't all praise. A good example of this shadowing is seen in Lucifera, Queen
of the House of Pride, if not Pride herself, as we see in stanzas 8-9 and stanza 16.
Contrast this with the language of Spenser’s proem. Brightness emanates from
both figures, e.g. the references to Phoebus. Similar allusions are used in both
parts of the poem, e.g. Lucifera is a maiden queen as was Elizabeth, who was
sometimes called “the virgin queen” (she never married or had children).
We also see the word “glorious” repeated in reference to both Elizabeth and
Lucifera. All of this contributes to a critique of the current monarch, e.g. her
court and pride. So it isn't just a celebration of her virtues, besides contributing to
the social/political allegory of Spenser’s poem.
Then we get a parade of 6 deadly sins as her counsellors, e.g. wrath, gluttony.
The Knight has the good sense not to accompany them on a picnic, especially after
discovering the dungeon. He manages to escape, although he has yet to discover
(A summary of Cantos 5 and 6 is given in your anthology.)
So far the narrative has been split between Una and the Redcrosse Knight, but
they are close to re-uniting in the same canto.
Canto 7 starts with the Redcrosse Knight and dwarf having just left the House of
Pride following their discovery of the dungeon. Duessa catches up with them,
although the Knight is still unaware of Duessa’s true nature.
We are also reminded of the Knight’s status as an “everyman” figure. What man is
there who is both wise and wary enough to see through Duessa’s type of cunning?
The Redcrosse Knight represents the human condition.
Duessa catches up with the Knight and berates him for deserting her, similar to his
desertion of Una. They make up in a bower or shade – an amorous encounter
(related to one of the discussion questions).
This scene in the “joyous shade” yet “gloomy glade” is significant. The text has
trained us to consider the significance of light vs. dark, e.g. truth vs. evil, although
brightness can also be negative, as in the glittering House of Pride. The gloomy
glade is a deception – a classic environment in the courtly love traditional,
where knights pursue and seduce damsels. It is a clear sexual scene: the
Knight has succumbed to the general weakness of chivalric figures, in which their
reputation as “ladies’ men” contrasts with their supposed reputation for virtue.
ENG202Y, OCT. 29 Page 3 of 7 The stream and fountain he drinks from makes the Knight faint and feeble, as a
result of a conflict between the nymph of Diana, the goddess of chastity. We
encountered Diana before in Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale” – again, think of the
maiden Queen Elizabeth. The nymph is out of Diana’s favour, making this an
The Knight undresses, laying his shield and armour aside for the moment. When
the Giant surprises him, he isn't able to re-arm, so the Giant imprisons him.